TV ad gets sheriff-elect an apology

November 18, 2008 8:09:08 AM PST
The city of Houston found itself apologizing today to one of its councilmen and sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia. It's all for what happened before an ad in the sheriff's race when incumbent Tommy Thomas went after Garcia and his past.

The ad only stayed on the air for a day or two. The backlash forced Thomas to take it off TV. But now the city human resources director is the one apologizing.

It was "the" ad in the sheriff's race.

Sheriff Tommy Thomas dug through Adrian Garcia's Houston Police Department personnel file looking for Garcia's dirty laundry and, possibly in violation of state law, the city just handed some over.

When the ad came out eight days before the election, Thomas gave us the document. It's 28 years old and faded but there it is "(Garcia) ... Smoked marijuana 100 times in his life."

It may have been true, but as it turns out, a city employee may be to blame for the information leaking out in the first place.

The day that ad came out, we asked the city for a copy of the file kept at the city's human resources office. Garcia told us he asked for one, too. He said the document wasn't in his copy and it's not in ours. The city is withholding it, telling us and the state attorney general that releasing it to a political operative was a mistake in the first place.

"It obviously was not checked appropriately," said city of Houston Human Resources Director Candy Clark Aldridge.

Basically, it was an oops, sorry we were wrong. No one should've known that an 18-year-old Adrian Garcia smoked marijuana. They're not even certain how it got in the file.

"It makes me wonder," Aldridge admitted. "How that one piece of paper got separated from other information."

The city says no supervisor ever checked the file before it was released to a private eye working for the Republicans.

Really?

Someone asks for the personnel records on a city councilman and no one bothers to check and see what's going out?

I asked Aldridge if she had apologized to Garcia yet. She said no, but that she will.

"I truly regret that the piece of paper was released," she said.

The city HR department is investigating how it happened to rule out any wrongdoing. Sheriff-elect Garcia told us through a spokesman he is focused on the transition, not the election. He didn't have much to add.

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